‘Mr. Game 7’ Justin Williams back in cup finals as an analyst

DENVER (AP) — “Mr. Game 7” is back in the Stanley Cup Finals, but in a very different role than before.

Three-time champion and 2014 playoff MVP Justin Williams is joining the NHL Network as a guest analyst for Games 3 and 4 between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Hockey is easy to talk to – that’s all I know,” Williams told The Associated Press by phone on Sunday. “I know hockey. I’ve gone through a lot of experiences. The best you think you can give people is what’s going on in the locker room and what the players are thinking and hopefully what needs to be done.” .

Williams, who won the cup with Carolina in 2006 and Los Angeles in 2012 and ’14, is best known for his Game 7 heroes. He recorded an NHL-record 15 points, and his team went 8–1 in those games.

He enters the series for Game 3 on Monday with a 2-0 major avalanche over two-time defending champion Lightning in Tampa, who need to repeat his return to the Eastern Conference Finals to force Game 6 as well. Will be

“One team has been really good, and the other team hasn’t yet shown what they can do,” Williams said. “You absolutely expect bounce-back performance and a lot more play than what we saw in Game 2.

Talking hockey hasn’t been a problem for the 40-year-old, who is still involved with the sport as a coach for his kids and a mentor to the Carolina Hurricanes. Happy with his decision to hang up his skates in 2020, Williams’ new TV partners are fellow retired players Mike Johnson and Mike Rupp and host Jamison Coyle, who has a combined 2,786 games of NHL experience and four cup rings between them.

“With those, it will be a piece of cake and I hope it flows really well,” Williams said. “You try and have your say and go in, get out, take them and then if I have something thoughtful that I think is interesting to add to the group, I’ll definitely do that. “

Outside of family and professional hockey obligations, Williams has been playing a lot of golf and tennis and enjoying her post-sport life in the Raleigh-Durham area of ​​North Carolina. When approached about a TV role, he figured it would be the next season and jumped at the opportunity to make a cameo appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

“I looked at the schedule and thought I could do it and said why not,” he said. “I dip my toe into everything and see what I want to do when I grow up.”

Burakovsky is not traveling

Colorado coach Jared Bednar said injured forward Andre Burakowski was being evaluated Sunday morning and was not flying with the team. Bednar said Burakovsky would be involved in an avalanche in Tampa on Monday.

Burakovsky, who became the overtime winner in Game 1, has been playing through pain since stopping the shot in the first match of the West final against Edmonton. He put no weight on his right leg skating and later needed help walking down the tunnel.

Bednar said out-of-favour center Nazem Qadri was traveling with the team after suffering a thumb injury during the Oilers series, but did not know much about when he might be available to play. Qadri continues skating and has intensified his movement by adding a stick and handling the puck further.

“Not sure yet on Naaz’s timeline,” Bednar said. “We hope we’re going to see him at some point. I’m not sure about Game 3 or Game 4. We’ll see.”

award on heat

The Hart Trophy for league MVP and the rest of the NHL awards will be presented Tuesday night in Tampa. Colorado’s Kale Makar and Tampa Bay’s Victor Heidman are finalists for the Norris Trophy with Nashville’s Roman Josie as top defenders.

“I saw a lot of those guys during the regular season and even before I got into the league,” Makar said before the finals started. “It’s fun to go against them. You get to see them. It’s great when you’re on the ice with them.”

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter https://twitter.com/Swhyno

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